I was surprised. The president praised the military in what seemed a sincere recognition of their accomplishment in Iraq as we wind down our involvement there. Instead of the vague and confusing term “terrorist,” he actually named some of the enemy, Al Qaida and the Taliban, which he’s begrudgingly done before. He did not try to take credit for the success so far in Iraq and was respectful toward former President Bush. He deserves credit for all that.
But the greatest compliment to our military would have been rescission of the deadline next year for ending our involvement in Afghanistan. That more than all the praise would have been truly meaningful to the troops – and our mission. It would have put our enemy – Worldwide Islamic Radicalism – on notice that we mean business and shown that he truly believed in what our soldiers have been fighting for. As it is, no matter the praise, our troops know their sacrifices will probably be for naught when we pull out and the wily Radical Islamists quickly fill the void.
We give gold watches and empty praise to retirees and that, despite the good tone the president set, is what he ultimately gave the troops.
Overall, the speech sounded like it was written by someone foreign to the president’s policies. He said, “Our national strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home.” But his policies of government growth and mandates, spending beyond the nation’s means, and impending taxes undermine and stifle that prosperity. He talked of deficits as if previous administrations were at fault. His administration has expanded deficits many times more than any other in history. He said, “We must end our dependence on foreign oil.” Yet he champions little cars and windmills and opposes much more meaningful nuclear power and domestic drilling.
At times this was a beautiful speech, praising those who deserved it on this official day of evacuation and recalling the true beauty of America’s charitable and freedom-building ways. But like the praise of the troops, it offered little to nothing in the way of practical solutions to the nations and world’s problems. At best it was an eloquent tip of the cap to those who do the grunt work and suffer the most.